The Beards go to Washington

4.04.2015

Spring break, bae, bae. As our time at Cornell comes to a close, we are really trying to knock off the big ticket items on our bucket list and DC was definitely on that list. Bonus points if we could catch it during cherry blossom time and double bonus points for being our last "break" where it's perfectly acceptable to not work or worry about anything because: school.

 We loaded up the car and headed down south to check out the sites for a week.

Day 1

We got into town late Saturday night, so we woke up Sunday to find a Sacrament meeting in the area, hoping to meet Olivia Pope of maybe the head of the FBI or something. After church, we went up to see the beautiful temple, walked around the grounds and hung out at the visitor's center there. Our original plan was to take lunch and eat outside near the temple....but ya. I forgot that the East coast in April isn't exactly picnic-worthy...Even if it is down south. it was freeeeeezing. So instead of slowly walking, we quickly jogged around the grounds and anxiously found refuge in the Visitor's center. 

This turned out to be a really cool experience. Viv had never seen a Christus before, so she ran right up to him and touched his feet, looked at his face and just stood by the statue for a long time. It was so sweet. I told her we would get to see a really big Jesus and that he has holes in his hands and his feet because he loves us very much. When she saw him she said "Mom! this is the big big taaaaaaallll Jesus?!" "Mom, he has holes in his feet! oh, that's sad." as she ran her fingers over them.  I love to think that Jesus would love if she did that in person. It was such a sweet moment to see her connect it all in that way.



We talked prophets and scriptures and holy ghost and missionaries and temples. It was a really great way to spend a Sunday.

Afterwards, we figured it would be fitting to visit Arlington National Cemetery, so we headed that way. As we got there (after getting lost, of course), kids were sleeping with no intention of waking up soon, so Dale let me go wander by myself while he stayed in the car with the kids. (he's not always the biggest fan of sightseeing). I for one am always up for exploring, especially if it doesn't involve kids. So, I took my camera and wandered around the beautiful, peaceful surroundings, counting my blessings and being so grateful for the sacrifices of so many.



    



What a beautiful, sacred place. I was in awe of how huge the grounds were and how much history is layered throughout the place.

One of my favorite things was visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and witnessing the changing of the guard. It is a monument dedicated to those soldiers who have fallen but never identified, so it is especially sacred. The sentinels have a special, meticulous routine they go through, symbolizing so much as they "walk the mat" in front of the tomb. It's very reverent at the site, and it was so cool to see.






Day 2

This day was dubbed our Monument Visiting Day and it was SO FUN. Our friends from Cornell were in DC as well, so we got together, rented bikes and BIKED THAT CITY. I will swear to you, this is the ONLY way to see the monuments, especially with kids. We threw them in the bike trailer and high tailed it around and got to see so much more than we ever would have on foot.



Washington Monument


Lincoln Memorial 


Between biking and naps, it took a little finagling for both Dale and I to be able to see the monuments. We never really went together, but it worked out well.



The Lincoln Memorial was by far my favorite of them all. Seriously, I was in awe staring up at the huge structure of such an amazing man. Also, I kept having flashes of Planet of the Apes go through my head, and that was kinda creepy, you know?



Minnie Mouse goes to Washington

We hit up lunch at The Founding Farmers (amazing), tried to see the White House and got ushered away by a cop (?), and towards the end of the day, biked around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial. And yes, this is supposed to be full of beautiful cherry blossoms, but all the locals kept telling us because it had been ridiculously FREEZING that year, the cherry blossoms were late. We would have been there at the perfect time....so damnit it. Chalk it up to my bad luck.



     
sorry for the overexposed pics, but who has time to edit when catching up is happening? Not me.




See? this shot is supposed to be covered in pink blossoms, but no. WINTER. UGH.


Later, we regrouped at the hotel and decided to head to Georgetown for dinner with the Hogges. Let me just say....GEORGETOWN. I went there three days in a row. I got cupcakes two of those days. Dale got a burger from our new favorite place (GOOD STUFF EATERY! TOASTED MARSHMALLOW MILKSHAKES!) three days in a row. I want to live there and shop there and eat there forever. So let it be said, so let it be written.



Day 3

National Zoo day!
Parking was a joke!
It was free!!

That's the great thing about DC is that everything is basically free. So, go America. and stuff.
It was Mo's first time and he totally loved it.
Kidding. He didn't even really know what was going on. But we were all loving this day because it was warmer weather than we had been in since we could remember and we were just walking around WITHOUT COATS. Game changer.




It was a nice day. Viv's at a really good age for the zoo. We saw funny monkeys, cute little pandas, a huge Komodo Dragon, tigers that were actually awake and some big ole elephants.  And we rode the carousel before we left and Viv's day was made. Easy Peasy.



     

When we go on vacation, I like to pack it all in. Who knows when we'll be back, you know? The National Cathedral was really close to the zoo so I made Dale go. He dropped Viv and me off while Mo slept and we went to explore the grounds. We found out it cost money and I forgot my wallet so we had to settle for just looking inside. Dang!







Viv kept saying, "Mom, is this the castle where the big taaaaalll Jesus lives?!"
I guess Sunday really made an impression on her.

And then, yeah. We went back to Georgetown for dinner. 
It was just that good.


DAY 4

Our last day we dubbed our "Museum Day", but really we just wanted to go to the Holocaust Memorial Museum because we had heard it was so good. Silly us, we didn't realize tickets sell out like a month in advance, so we took our chances at standing in line for timed tickets. Luckily we got there pretty early and the boys stayed in line while us girls took the kids for a walk and to play on the grass. 20 minutes later, we were in and got some of the first timed tickets of the morning. It worked out perfectly.

So, the Holocaust Memorial Museum is huge. Like, four levels, each going through the history of WW2. It illustrated Nazi's coming to power, political unrest in Germany, and how such a terrible even could actually take place not so long ago. The last levels were informative and graphic, showing actual artifacts from the camps, showing actual footage taken of bodies being thrown in mass graves, of horrible experiments and all other atrocities. I have always been intrigued with ww2 and the Holocaust. I read everything I can get my hands on about it, but this memorial was hard to see. It was so real. Actual pieces of poison used to gas the Jews. Thousands of shoes found at the camps, taken from those people. Pictures of shorn hair, enough to stuff thousands of mattresses. It was humbling and so very sad. This quote by Elie Wiesel gave me chills and summed up the entire experience for me:



I don't have the words to describe the experience. Many times I was brought to tears throughout the memorial because of how terrible and moving it all was. But it was so very worth it. It was amazing, and one of the favorite things we did on our trip.

Afterwards we grabbed lunch and wandered over to the Natural History Museum to let the kids enjoy something for a little while (my favorite part by far was the Gems installation they had going on. It was truly amazing. I could have stayed there forever. Emeralds worn by Marie Antoinette! A humongous diamond! Seriously amazing).

Then? You guessed it. We went to Georgetown again.

I can't remember which of these nights it happened, but ONE of the nights as we were driving to Georgetown, we got stuck in the worst traffic of all time and Viv HAD to go potty. Could NOT hold it. We were stuck downtown with no way of escaping the cars, so to avoid viv bursting and peeing everywhere, I did what any mom would do. I grabbed a sand bucket hanging out in the back seat, undid Viv from her seat belt and had her squat on the bucket, praying that we didn't make any sharp turns and that she had good aim. Turns out it worked out and I held a bucketful of pee between my legs for the rest of the drive home. No harm, no foul. Amazing what we can do as parents and still have our dignity left, you know? I take pride in that.

It really was a wonderful trip with some fun people (Thanks Hogges!). Best last spring break ever, bae bae.

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